Friday, July 20, 2012

Suit up!


"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:11-17 
According to this verse, the unseen spiritual world is very real and even more threatening than the world which we can see. There are rulers, authorities, dark powers and spiritual forces of evil that we cannot presently see, all around us! If we really believe this, we will daily seek to consciously clothe ourselves with the full armor of God. All of the spiritual pieces of armor: helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth, shield of faith, sword of the Spirit, and feet coverings, are crucial to our victory over darkness. They each have a direct link to "putting on Christ."  What significance does each piece have for believers? What connection do these pieces have to Christ?

The helmet of salvation is especially vital.  Not only is it crucial because of the irrefutable significance of eternal salvation, but also because of the effect the helmet has on our thoughts, spiritual sight and speech. The meaning of the name Jesus is salvation. When we put on the helmet of salvation, we put on the mind of Christ. The implications of the mind of Christ influencing and guiding our every thought are staggering!

Besides having His mindset on everything going on in our lives, the helmet of salvation guards our minds from the attacks of the enemy–condemnation, guilt over forgiven sins, insecurity, etc. Satan is the believer's accuser. He is constantly at work in our consciousness accusing us in our thoughts: of not having done or said the right thing, of being inadequate. He attempts to oppress us with fear and worry, depress us with guilt and shame, and swell our egos with pride. The helmet, the mind of Christ, combats these attacks.  It enables us to "...demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Putting on the helmet of salvation is putting on the mind of Christ.    

Two other key mechanisms of the helmet of salvation are that it covers the eyes and mouth.  By putting on the helmet, we see as Jesus does.  We hurt when He hurts, rejoice when He rejoices.  We are joining in agreement with King David's Psalm 141:3:  "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord;  keep watch over the door of my lips."  Our desire to speak is now put under the control of the Spirit of Jesus.  Under His submission, we will speak what He wants us to speak, and remain silent when He wants us to remain silent.  What an incredible gift--to speak blessing into the lives of others, by His Spirit!

The breastplate of righteousness protects our hearts, which is "deceitful above all things."  "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life," Proverbs 4:23. When we accept Christ as Savior, we are clothed in His righteousness.  II Cor. 5:21 reads, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."  He is Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness! The breastplate enables us to "do the next right thing", minute-by-minute.  Jesus is all our righteousness. 

Putting on the belt of truth enables us to discern truth from lies, both untruths in our thoughts, and lies that constantly surround us in the world.  This gift of discernment helps us to throw off the untruths and embrace truth.  Jesus proclaimed Himself as being truth. We cannot trust others or ourselves because our hearts deceive us.  As the son of the Most High, He alone is Truth!

 The sword of the Spirit is the word of God.  How do we use this sword in attacks from the enemy?  Proclaim the Word, aloud, in the hearing of the invisible spiritual world.  Evil cannot stand in the presence of the power of the word of God. God has provided a word for every spiritual attack that can come against us!   When we are feeling inadequate, we can declare, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength," Philippians 4:13.  When feeling fear, proclaim "I will not fear, for God is with me; I will not be dismayed, for He is my God. He will strengthen me and help me; He will uphold me with my righteous right hand,” Isaiah 41:10.  If feeling guilty or shame over confessed, ( and thus forgiven), sins, assert to the darkness, "...there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death," Romans 8:1-2.  If feeling prideful, state "Jehovah Tsidkenu--the Lord is all my righteousness."  A very powerful declaration over darkness is "Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world!"  This is from I John 4:4, a verse about dealing with false spirits.  "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." 

God affirms in Isaiah 54:17, "...no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,  and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.  Jesus is the embodiment of the Word made flesh.  He is our sword of the Spirit.

The shield of faith "extinguishes all the flaming arrows of the evil one." What an image!  Fiery arrows are being loosed upon us as God allows, but with the shield of faith in place, their burning sting is doused.  They fall uselessly to the ground, missing their mark.

Our faith--believing God is who He says He is and that His word is true--acts as a shield when we are under attack.  Moses perfectly expressed the relationship of God as our shield and sword in Deuteronomy 33:29.  "He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword.  Your enemies will cower before you..." Jesus is our shield, and very great reward.  (Genesis 15:1)

The last piece of God's armor listed is "your feet equipped with the readiness of the gospel of peace."  Our feet must go where Jesus leads, and be willing to share the gospel of peace--reconciliation between God and man.  As with all the other pieces of armor, God supplies this readiness.  Jesus moved from town to town and to the cross, as the Spirit led him.  So must we, led by the Spirit, be ready to share Jesus at any place with anyone to whom He wishes us to speak.

God has provided us His Son as a covering to protect and strengthen us in our walk with Him here on earth.  Each piece of armor is critical to our success in the battle over darkness and is an inextricable link to Christ.  Let us seek each day to put on Christ and be clothed in the full armor of God so that we may be able to stand unswervingly against the spiritual attacks of Satan, and "after you have done everything, to stand."

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